Open APIs are at the heart of BSS evolution to the digital world

Image credit: Sergey Nivens /

Open APIs are at the heart of the move from legacy BSS to open and agile digital business platforms.

The TM Forum’s main conference is almost upon us. After MWC, this is the main telecoms event – certainly for those involved in telecoms IT. I think it’s fair to say that the TM Forum has come a long way in the past couple of years. The change of name of their main event from TMF Live to Digital Transformation World says a lot, as it sets a clear objective as to what the forum’s main goals are.

In the BSS world, the work that the forum is doing in setting out a blueprint for digital OSS/ BSS in their Open Digital Architecture is very welcome. Likewise their Open API work shows just how far BSS has come in the past two years. Open API standards can only be good for the industry, as they are fundamental to the open ecosystems that the industry must embrace. For some, the move away from closed, proprietary solutions with long implementation timelines and very expensive up front license fees, is a bitter pill to swallow. But for the service providers, it’s a welcome change and gives them an open and agile IT foundation on which to develop their business. The vendors who don’t change their stripes (as painful as the process is) from the good old telco BSS days will be in trouble.

Open, flexible APIs are at the heart of this evolution and are very much changing the BSS game. Up until recently, end-to-end BSS stacks were the preserve of large single vendor solutions, as service providers did not want the integration headache of a multi-vendor stack. As a result many service providers were tied into vendor lock-in contracts with single suppliers. The advent of digital transformation has seen several large and very expensive BSS projects stumble. As a result, in order to ‘get digital’ quickly, many service providers are launching digital-first sub-brands or indeed running a ‘plan B’ alongside their ongoing large and expensive BSS transformation project.

Open APIs enable a faster and more cost effective alternative to the multi-year BSS transformation projects, by proving the pre-integration framework for best-of-breed BSS suppliers to work together to provide digital platforms.

This open, best-of-breed platform approach is the antithesis of big vendor lock-in. By drawing on open technologies, promoted through the use of open APIs, service providers will be better suited to encourage partnerships and the collaboration and sharing of technologies within these. Not only will this reduce OSS/BSS cost and implementation timescales, it will also remove single vendor lock-in.

Ultimately, it is this openness that will promote innovation in the telecoms industry and see OSS/BSS become the enablers operators need to succeed in this ever-evolving digital world.

APIsJon Ross is the COO of Openet. Previous roles include Global Vice President of Product and Solution Management with Openet and senior management roles with Vodafone in the UK and New Zealand. 

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